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Find Free Junk Journal Images Online: Wikimedia Commons

The internet is packed with free images for junk journaling, if you know where to look. I'm sharing a few of my favorite places over the next few days (I'm waiting for a new printer to come in so am somewhat grounded from creating!)

One of the richest sources for free clipart, photographs, illustrations, advertising and more is part of the Wikipedia group -- Wikimedia Commons. This resource is one of the largest in the world, boasting over 73 million free images and graphics as of today. While there is a ton to discover, it can be almost overwhelming at times to find what you need.

Wikimedia Commons and Usage Rights

If you're following along with my series "How to Make Money with Printables", you already know how important it is to use legally sourced images for your products. While you will eventually want to invest in stock photography or a subscription site like CreativeFabrica, sites like Wikimedia Commons provide plenty of free graphics to get you started.

A quick search:

I'm a sucker for vintage labels -- and sure enough, searching "vintage labels" produced some winners. I am not sure what "sheep dip" is but I downloaded that label for later use!

Wikimedia Commons Usage Rights

The good news is, Wikimedia Commons offers very generous full commercial use of everything in the catalog. That means you can use any images you find there, whether you modify them or not. You may have to attribute or credit the creator of the piece; that infomration will be available when you download the item.

The downside to this free use is that anyone else who discovers the same images that you have can use them as well, for free. For beginners, though, Wikimedia Commons offers a vast number of resources without any cost. Even veteran designers make use of the site, often modifying what they find into something completely new.

I searched "cats" and got pictures of cats. Other searches are a little more challenging...

Finding Great Graphics on Wikimedia Commons

Searching requires a bit of thought -- since the images are user submitted, you're dependent on the user to categorize their own images. Searching "cats" yeilded the photos above -- searching a less familiar term "ephemera" got me these bugs:

I have no idea.

You may have to search a few times or refine your terms to find what you need.

All that free stuff is awesome, but you won't love everything in the collection. Since many pieces are user submitted, they vary wildly in quality. A paid site has a lot more gatekeeping, so you only see the best. There is a LOT of amazing art and photography there, it just helps to know where to look.

A few collections to start with if you're browsing:

  • Featured Media: This is the section that is curated, and while you may not find everything here to be of use, they will be good quality images.

  • Quality Images: Just what it sounds like, this label is given to photographs and images of high quality.

  • Valued Images: These are consistently chosen for downloads by users and rated highly -- but they also have the highest number of downloads -- you may see some familiar images here if you spend enough time viewing junk journals!

Search by Topic

If you have a general idea of what you want -- "botanicals" or "castles" then searching by content may help yield the highest number of useful results. Check out the right sidebar to search by topic or category and choose the specific type of image you need.

I've chosen "Nature" then "Fungi" to come up with a ton of mushroom photos that can be used for reference, for printables or for backgrounds:

If you're just starting to design printables to sell, then Wikimedia Commons is well worth a look - - and a good way to access free, legal images for your first products.

What do you think of Wikimedia Commons - or what oddness came up when you searched? I'd love to hear!

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Ruth Anne Martin
Ruth Anne Martin
Sep 01, 2022

You said all Wikipedia Commons images are free for commercial use. What about GNU/share and share alike licenses? I got the impression that I could only use images with such a license if I intended to give derivative works away for free. I would like to be wrong.

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